Morning Skate: Red Wings at Panthers Preview

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Game 32

7:30p ET, BB&T Center

Sunrise, FL

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Rejoice all ye of Red Wings Nation, Datsyuk is back! Huzzah!!!

The Wings fell to the Panthers on Saturday night and from what I've heard, I'm glad I was watching the Griffins and not the Wings. The Wings will get a huge boost by getting Datsyuk back (at least we're being told he's back) and have had a couple days to rest. The Panthers lost to Chicago on Sunday, so in addition to being a terrible hockey team, they've also had one day less to rest. The Wings should have plenty of motivation to play a strong game and beat the Panthers after losing to them on home ice.

This is a game the Wings should absolutely win, which naturally means I'm nervous about it. The Wings don't have any excuse for not beating the Panthers this time because they're rested and are getting Pavel Datsyuk back. Hopefully Stephen Weiss can break out of his funk and score a goal against his former team, because that would be really nice, for him and for the team. He'll center the 2nd line in Helm's absence... or... center the 2nd line because that's what we signed him to do... I think.

It looks like Samuelsson is the odd man out, now that Datsuk is back. To the Sammy Shithouse he goes.

Jimmy Howard will return to the crease tonight, and while he wasn't happy about not getting the start Saturday, he respected the decision. Gustavsson has played well this season, and having a reliable backup goalie is a luxury the Wings haven't had much of in recent history. Howard is, and will continue to be, the Wings goalie, but actually having a goaltending tandem this season has been a breathe of fresh air. Jimmy will get back to being his dominant self, and when he gets fired up and passionate, he plays some of his best hockey. I like fired up, motivated Jimmy, so I expect him to come out tonight with an outstanding performance. I jut hope the team can play as well in front of him as they have for the most part in front of Gustavsson. It's time to win!

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Johan Franzen Pavel Datsyuk Todd Bertuzzi
Justin Abdelkader Stephen Weiss Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar Joakim Andersson Gustav Nyquist
Daniel Cleary Cory Emmerton Drew Miller


Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard (starting)
Jonas Gustavsson

Scratches: Mikael Samuelsson

Injuries: Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Darren Helm (shoulder)

LTIR: Danny DeKeyser (shoulder)

RED WINGS THE MATCH-UP PANTHERS
15-9-7 (37 pts; 3rd in Atlantic) Record 9-17-5 (2. pts; 7th in Atlantic)
2.74 (12th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.19 (29th in NHL)
2.52 (13th) Goals Against Per Game 3.23 (27th)
20.2 (10th) Power Play % 11.3 (29th)
84.5 (9th) Penalty Kill % 74.2 (28th)
Pavel Datsyuk (12 goals) Goal Leader Brad Boyes (8 goals)
Henrik Zetterberg (30 points) Points Leader Scottie Upshall (17 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Brian Campbell, because if he scores a goal, he may just whip out his frank and beans on live TV, and no one wants to see that again... ever. Oh, and that Jonathan Huberdeau is pretty good at hockey and scored the game winner on Saturday night, so maybe watch out for him too.

X-Factor: I'm going to stick with Tim Thomas, because he's still a good goalie who has the ability to be a difference maker for his team.

Familiar Faces: Aside from all those mentioned by Jeff in Saturday's Morning Skate, Stephen Weiss was drafted by the Panthers and prior to coming to Detroit, had played his entire career with them.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Florida): They have sunshine, and they have it year round. I'm jealous.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Florida): Brad Boyes, because every time I hear or see his name, I get the song "Bad Boys" stuck in my head.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • Detroit has the league's best road record of 10-3-1

  • The Red Wings are 14-3-5-2 (W-L-T-OTL) All-Time against the Panthers

  • Last 10 games: Florida 4-5-1. Detroit 6-4-0

  • The Wings are currently 1-1-1 on Tuesday

  • Jimmy Howard is 1-0-0 with a .92 GAA and .964 SV% in 1 career game against the Panthers. That game was a shoot out victory for Howard and the Wings.


Prediction: Lyrical Inspiration for Datsyuk's Return:

"Try to understand
Try to understand
Try try try to understand
I'm a magic man."

Simple and true. Welcome back Pav!

Let's Go Red Wings!!!

Don't forget to text KIDS to 85944 to donate $5 to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation. Details/legal stuff here. Remember to follow H2H3 on Twitter as well.
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